Datacenter hearth suppression system wasn’t examined for years, then BOOM

On Name The “P6 rule” states that Correct Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Efficiency. In order you put together for the approaching weekend, The Register invitations readers to run an eyeball over one other version of On Name, our weekly reader-contributed story of tech assist chores that contain one other P – as in “going pear-shaped.”

This week, meet a reader we’ll Regomize as “Jack” who as soon as labored within the laptop room of a faculty board’s HQ.

Subsequent to the pc room was a walled-off shared workplace that had a window permitting a view of the pc room.

The 2 areas shared a raised flooring, so the very giant tank crammed filled with high-pressure halon gasoline in place to suppress fires would flood each rooms in case of emergency.

Each rooms have been outfitted with sensors to detect smoke, which might trigger a bell to sound warning of imminent gasoline launch.

However in case of a false alarm, or minor incident, the ability additionally included a Massive Yellow Button that might abort the gasoline launch. And in case the sensors did not do their factor, the pc room additionally housed a Massive Purple Button that overrode every part and launched the gasoline to place out any hearth.

These buttons and their respective roles turned essential when one in every of Jack’s colleagues determined to do a spot of soldering within the workplace. Just a little smoke duly wafted previous a sensor, and the warning bell started to sound.

Clearly the pc room was in no hazard in anyway. So one in every of Jack’s colleagues pressed the Massive Yellow Button to cease the discharge of Halon!


“The halon system instantly dumped its tank,” Jack advised On Name. “It was so quick that it seemed like a shotgun blast. Mud and paper flew in all places within the air and one workers member sitting at their desk, not removed from the halon nozzle in that workplace, dove underneath the desk, pondering that somebody had fired a gun.”

As defined above, the Massive Yellow Button was there to cease gasoline being launched. It had just one job – why had it failed so spectacularly?

Jack’s investigation revealed that the Massive Yellow Button and the Massive Purple Button had been wired in reverse many, a few years earlier than the soldering iron set off the alarm.

“No one had ever examined all of the buttons with the system’s dump mechanism disabled with the intention to be certain that every part was wired appropriately,” Jack defined.

“Seventeen years later, when the ability put in a brand new hearth suppression system, the corporate that put in it labored with the IT workers to check every button to guarantee that the system labored appropriately and that every one dump and countdown reset buttons have been wired appropriately,” Jack wrote.

The brand new system sounds foolproof. As Jack tells it, on the first whiff of bother a 30-second countdown commences – throughout which three high-pitched, warbling horns with strobe lights blare.

“The abort buttons reset the counter to zero with every momentary press, permitting a single workers member to run across the room, checking for smoke or hearth and to permit that workers member to go to the fireplace suppression system’s alarm panel and disarm the system if no situation is discovered.”

What may probably go mistaken? On Name is certain readers may have tales of the frailties such a system possesses.

Click on right here to ship your story to On Name and we could characteristic it right here on a future Friday. ®